, Gloucester, MA


November 15, 2012

On the Mend: Five worst challenges to your pain threshold

As a physical therapist, my job is to help people in pain.

The entirety of each of my work days is dedicated to eliminating one of the most unpleasant parts of life.

Every half hour, I meet someone new who has come to see me because they have pain. If you take into account the occasional holiday and day off, a full time therapist may see more than fifteen hundred office visits per year. That’s a lot of pain.

A health care provider in an orthopedic setting becomes well versed in a variety of types of pain over the course of a few years. And as any practitioner can tell you, patients and the stories of how they got injured ensure that no two clinic days are alike.

Yet with all the variability of a full-time caseload, there are certain diagnoses and disorders that make every therapist think to themselves, “Boy, am I glad I’m not going through that.”

Pain – whether emotional or physical – may be one of the most subjective and debatable topics you could ever discuss. But there are ways to measure pain that make it more tangible and quantifiable, because lets face it – humans love to compare experiences.

Patients ask me all the time, “What’s the most painful injury you’ve ever seen?” Ironically enough, it’s not anything unusual or exotic, and rarely is it the result of a heroic act.

So, after several years in an outpatient orthopedic practice, here’s one physical therapist’s list of the top five things he least wants to have happen to him.

5. Rupture your Achilles tendon and you’ll see more stars than there are in the night sky. After hearing the pop of the tendon, you can expect extremely high levels of pain for several hours to days. Shortly after that, the free nerve endings in the remaining portion of the tendon die off, leaving only mild soreness and the inability to walk – a mere shadow of the horrific pain a few days earlier.

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